Red Bull still revel in being ‘a pain in the arse’ for other F1 teams

Thomas Maher
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner on the grid. Abu Dhabi, November 2022.

Christian Horner looks down the grid before the race. Abu Dhabi, November 2022.

Christian Horner has said the mentality of the Red Bull team hasn’t changed at all from when they first entered the sport in 2005.

Red Bull, from an external viewpoint, appear very different to the edgy, loud ‘party team’ that they were when they first arrived into the F1 sphere 18 years ago, with Dietrich Mateschitz buying out the former Jaguar outfit.

Now a behemoth of the sport, dominating the sport once again after an initial spree of titles between 2010 and ’13, Horner has reflected on his time at the helm of the World Champions and believes that, despite their success, not much else has changed.

“When we turned up [in 2005], we played our music loud, we turned up with a hospitality centre that we called the Energy station that looked nothing like anybody else’s,” he said.

“It was free for anybody to get in, you didn’t need 200 passes to even get through the front door.”

Christian Horner: Red Bull have never been afraid to have a bit of fun

Their willingness to have fun meant that, for a while, Horner felt the team weren’t taken seriously by the rest of the paddock – something the team quickly refuted when they secured the services of Adrian Newey at the end of 2005.

“Things were different, things were just very different about Red Bull, and people perceived that ‘these guys aren’t serious, they’re not here to win, they’re here to have a good time and they’ve got no aspirations’, but it was very, very different to that because, actually, we were just as determined as any other team,” Horner explained.

“It was just that we weren’t afraid to have a bit of fun along the way and express ourselves differently. That hasn’t changed, we still are the team that plays our music the loudest – we’re absolutely a pain in the arse for whoever is next to us because, for sure, some of the mechanics’ choice of music is a little bit dubious these days!” recommends

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Turning serious, Horner pointed to the evidence of recent years and successes to show just how serious Red Bull are in their approach to the sport.

“We’re very, very different,” he said.

“As a team, we’ve very much got a can-do mentality that no challenge is too great. We’d never be making our own engine if that were the case, we’d never have achieved anything that we’ve done in Formula 1.

“We’ve got a real sense of team, that everybody is working for each other. There’s no I in team – it’s about a collective effort. The one thing that everybody has in common is the car, and how that performs on a Sunday afternoon on 23 weekends a year – that’s what we’re all invested in.”

What’s been the most difficult moment for Red Bull since 2005?

With 18 years of history behind him, Horner was asked to pick out the moment he’s found the most difficult, the biggest obstacle Red Bull have had to overcome.

Pondering over the question, Horner said competing with a less competitive Renault power unit at the beginning of the hybrid era had threatened to send his team into a “downward spiral”.

“We’ve had so many – that’s Formula 1,” he said.

“It’s the most competitive sport in the world. When we came into the sport, we had to fight to get into a competitive position. We did that in a relatively quick amount of time – joining in 2005 and winning by 2010.

“Within a five-year period, we turned the team into a championship-winning organisation. We then had four really successful seasons, and then a big regulation change for 2014. The engine that we had, we just couldn’t compete against our opponents, and that was really tough for everybody in the team for an element that we couldn’t control.

“We were unable to compete and then heads started to drop and you can end up in a downward spiral, very, very quickly. But we managed to stop that and be able to focus on the things that we could control.

“In doing that, we were able to win races in every single season bar one in the intervening years, at circuits that would suit the characteristics of our car or opportunities that we were able to grab. Once we got a competitive power unit that Honda provided for us, suddenly we’re back in the hunt, we’re back in the game, but with all that hunger and motivation to get back into a winning situation.”